would be built along the existing highway's right-of-way, which
would mean little or even no cost for land acquisition. As far
as noise is concerned, a high-speed train is roughly as loud as a
stream of traffic—the difference is that noise from automobiles is
continuous, while a train passes very quickly.
Trains Are More Energy Efficient
Calculated on a per-passenger-mile basis, a high-speed train uses
less than two-thirds the energy consumed by an automobile and
only about one-fifth the amount consumed by a jet plane. Actu-
ally, those figures give the family car a big break, since they assume
it's carrying four people. We can really begin to see the potential
benefits by comparing energy consumption in the United States
with areas in Europe where high-speed rail is a viable alternative
to the private automobile. On a per-capita basis, a typical Ameri-
can uses about 400 gallons of gasoline a year, while a resident of
a typical European city uses just more than 100 gallons.
Trains Are Safer, Too
Most of us are painfully aware of the carnage that occurs year
after year on our highways: between 35,000 and 40,000 people
are killed annually, and many times that number are injured.
Statistically, planes are many times safer than automobiles, but
there are real concerns about our ability to maintain that high
standard. The airlines of the world are now using about 20,000
planes to carry their passengers, and many of those planes are fly-
ing around in American skies. There has been concern for some
time that our current air-traffic-control system is operating at or
near capacity. That has raised demands for an improved system
that would allow more planes in the air at the same time and
permit them to fly even closer together.